The Impressive Mr. Lee


He is the guy most people in the room probably didn’t notice.

After all there was the President, Secretary of Defense Leon Panneta and Giant reliever Brian “the beard” Wilson.

But somewhere in the group of World Series champions at the White House earlier this week was the Mayor of San Francisco.

In fact there were three. Former Mayor Willie Brown was there, as was current Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom.

It is likely they, too, received a good more attention than the man who currently holds the office.

Ed Lee took over the job after Newsom left the coast for the inland job in Sacramento. Nobody outside the city knows his name or what he does.

Until recently that went for most people in the city.

That has changed of late and the reasons may make for an interesting lesson for those seeking that job in the future as well as the one soon to be vacant in LA.

You see Ed Lee is not a politician.

He was a career city administrator who didn’t want the job but was given it anyway in the hope he wouldn’t run for it outright.

He was to be a caretaker. Until the "real" politicians started lining up for the next mayoral campaign.

What they didn’t expect is that this beaucrat-turned-mayor might actually become… popular. Which he has.

People in the city started to notice that Lee worked hard at city business and had little time for grandstanding.

When supermodel Nikki Taylor (one of People magazine’s top 50 “beautiful people”) showed up with a charity check to give to the city, Mayor Lee was working on the budget.

He told Taylor he was too busy to schmooze and sent a replacement.

Such dedication to duty has earned him big points and now has some of the politicians worried Lee may actually seek the office in the next election.

Lee says he has no such ambitions. And he isn’t against standing with celebrities.

But when the San Francisco Giants met with President Obama at the White House this week  and California pols tagged along, the Mayor paid his own way so as to not burden the taxpayers of his city with the cost (Newsom’s trip was paid by state taxpayers).

With budgets having been shredded around the state, voters are more interested in competence than flash.

California’s ambitious political class could take a lesson or two from the little known executive who is now the talk of San Francisco.

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